Halloween is here, and this means candy and costumes—perhaps in and out of the office depending on where you work. But Halloween also signals a quick race to the end of the year. It will be 2019 before we know it, and that means law firm IT leaders and corporate legal operations managers need to gaze into their tech cauldrons. It’s that time of year when decisions are made about resources and budgets for the coming year.
One hot new technology to support next year’s IT goals is collaboration platforms. These tools have already taken other industries by storm, and now forward-thinking law firms and legal departments are evaluating the benefits of collaboration technology in the legal industry. But implementing any new platform takes more than just budget dollars. Technology implementation takes time and effort. Don’t be spooked by collaboration. Here are three common collaboration fears and ways to overcome them to boost productivity, improve communication and launch new workflows.
Afraid to Abandon Email
Email is one of the most important business tools, but many employees are completely overwhelmed by the volume and chaos in their inboxes. For most professionals, sending and receiving hundreds of emails a day are the norm. Many workers struggle to get through all their email in a single day or stay late just to catch up on email. In fact, studies show that over 20 hours a week are spent emailing and searching for information. Also, urgent messages are buried alongside junk or low-priority notes. Group conversations via email often grow out of hand, and email is no way to manage projects. It is not uncommon for email to distract employees from priorities that need to be accomplished in a day. Despite all this, no one would ever willingly abandon their email lifeline.
If law firms and legal departments are intently focused on productivity, lightening the email load is the first step. Collaboration is key to efficiency and performance. With instant communication and easier interaction among colleagues—across different teams and from different regions of the world—employees get more done and find greater value in their work. This type of communication also breaks down silos and encourages information-sharing and innovation.
Further, in the new mobile, social and video world of business, the role of email is evolving. Employees are finding chat and messaging platforms appropriate for collaborative tasks and email necessary for more formalized communication. In an ideal world, messaging and videoconferencing are integrated with email so that all communication tools are available in the same collaboration platform for greater workplace efficiency and productivity.
Hesitant to Work in Teams
Not everyone is a born collaborator, and one objection to using this technology is a fear of working in teams. Many people prefer working alone and may feel involving a team invites hassle and increased burdens. But in modern workplaces this is not the reality. Employees have to work with others to share information, intertwine skill sets and make decisions. This requires technology-based meeting and communication tools, especially if some of the team members work in different offices or are based remotely. Collaboration platforms are a modern choice for continual connectedness, rapid and succinct dialogues with colleagues and real-time decision-making.
To promote adoption of collaboration technology, firms and legal departments should make use of collaboration champions to spread the word and persuade co-workers to join the platform. Share real-world scenarios so that all team members see how communication flows inside the organization between colleagues and outside the organization with clients or counsel. Challenge current staff to increase their efficiency rates and become power users on the system.
Moreover, building a culture of collaboration takes more than technology. Collaboration starts with leadership. Executives and management must encourage and facilitate collaborative opportunities. Peers must hold each other accountable and offer feedback, both of which become easier when an ongoing stream of collaboration powered by technology is the norm.
Worried About Too Many Tools
Embracing collaboration technology raises counter-productivity concerns, namely that employees are being bombarded with a plethora of platforms that may actually negatively impact workplace efficiency. Not only do these tools serve as a distraction, but documents now linger in another application that needs to be managed pursuant to security and data retention policies. However, collaboration platforms were architected precisely to tackle these concerns.
The goal of a collaboration platform is to centralize the key applications that teams employ every single day. Users can securely send and receive email alongside messages, files, video conference calls and more, all within the same dashboard. That means no more minimizing and closing and opening separate windows to switch from messaging to email or from email to secure file sharing. No more logging into this platform and then that platform and then also that platform to get work done throughout the day. All the tools needed to be productive are right there inside one platform.
But collaboration isn’t just about sharing ideas and documents. It’s about keeping those ideas and documents secure and confidential. Privacy, security and data controls should form the foundation for all technical aspects of the collaboration tool – infrastructure, software design, access rights and policy development. Make sure an IT staff member is involved in rolling out the collaboration platform so that security parameters can be analyzed and established.
Don’t let collaboration technology spook you—unlock a new level of productivity that will bring more treats than tricks. Get started with a free 30-day trial of Workstorm today.
This article originally appeared on October 31, 2018 in Legaltech News.